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All Opinions Are Local
Posted at 03:34 PM ET, 05/07/2012

D.C.’s world-class eyesore

We know the FBI’s downtown headquarters is an eyesore, but is it the world’s worst eyesore? Apparently so, according to a new list from and Reuters that declares the J. Edgar Hoover Building the world’s “ugliest” building worth visiting:

This is reason alone to avoid the 10 Most Wanted list. Situated in the centre of the city, this dreary 1970s behemoth is almost unavoidable. Its days may be numbered as discussions about the department’s relocation are rumoured to be swirling around the capital city.

The J. Edgar Hoover FBI building. (Rich Clement - BLOOMBERG)
Only mildly less ugly are the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland and the Sharp Centre for Design in Toronto; Aoyama Technical College in Shibuya, Japan, and the Geisel Library at the University of California San Diego round off the top five.

We’ve long derided the Hoover Building’s imposing Brutalist architecture, and recently cheered a possible FBI move to the suburbs that would free up its current HQ for redevelopment. (Even the FBI doesn’t like it’s own building.) In 2005, architect Arthur Cotton Moore may have said it best when he described the building thusly:

It creates a void along Pennsylvania Avenue. Given its elephantine size and harshness, it creates a black hole. Its concrete wall, with no windows or life to it, is an urban sin. People should be strolling down America’s main street. Nobody strolls in front of the FBI Building.
I’ve long wanted to put panels for outdoor art onto its blankness, as is done in Paris, to infuse some activity. The FBI long refused, I assume because they suspected somebody would burrow through the wall.

Still, being at the top of the list may be a bit of a stretch. Sure, it’s an eyesore, but at least it’s a plainly designed eyesore. These buildings, on the other hand, somehow manage to merge ugliness with head-scratching design.

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Martin Austermuhle blogs at DCist . The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By  |  03:34 PM ET, 05/07/2012

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